Mizan & Ali Riaz at the table in front of audience

Graduate student Mizanur Rahman (far left) and Illinois State Distinguished Professor Ali Riaz (far right)

Department of Politics and Government graduate student Mizanur Rahman presented a paper titled “Politics of Islamic Social Institutions in Bangladesh” at the 47th annual Conference on South Asia, held October 11–14 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Rahman argued that understanding the Islamization of Bangladeshi society requires examination of Islamic social forces and institutions from a broader perspective of politics.

Taking madrassahs as a case study and drawing on a survey among madrassah students and teachers, of two distinctly different traditions, Rahman argued that these institutions pursue political goals and objectives, albeit differently.

While those connected to the government supervised Aliya madrassahs support and engage in traditional politics, privately operated Qwami madrassahs of Deobandi tradition display their moral politics by controlling the “true” interpretations of Islam, by maintaining a monopoly over authority on public Islam, and by demonstrating activism for a sharia-based Islamic state.